Many people, including myself, swear by using yoga to help them sleep. I love taking evening yoga classes because it puts my mind and body in a restful place. If you can’t make it to the studio, there are poses that will get you ready for a great night’s sleep. Use these poses as a routine or find one that works for you. Either way, try these yoga poses to sleep better tonight!
Standing Half Forward Bend (Ardha Uttanasana)
This pose is as calming as it is easy. The great thing about Ardha Uttanasana is that you can adjust to your personal level of flexibility. If you can easily touch your toes, feel free to do this pose based on the first photo. If you are uncomfortable in this position or your quads feel too tight, use a wall or chair to support yourself.
In a standing position, take a deep breath and fold forward and place your hands on your legs above your knees. Try to create as much length between your hips and head. Hold this pose taking deep breaths, pressing your feet into the floor and continuing to lengthen your spine. Bend your knees and slowly come up.
Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana)
Once you feel like you have mastered the half bend, move on to Uttanasana, the full forward bend. Again, this pose can be adjusted for your level of flexibility. When done correctly, this pose can build flexibility, relax your spine and most importantly, calm the nervous system.
Begin in a standing position, raise your arms above your head and take a deep breath, folding at the waist. Keep your spine completely straight all the way to your neck then work towards folding your body into your knee. A variation if needed is to bend your knee generously and folding your body into the thighs, keeping the spine straight. Hold the pose, breathing deep, then bend your legs and slowly stand up.
Reclining Bound Angle (Supta Baddha Konasana)
This is one of my favorite poses hands down. It is even better than the corpse pose which usually puts everyone to sleep! My favorite part about this pose is that it’s encouraged to add pillows to support your back and legs so it doesn’t feel like you’re making an adjustment. When I truly can’t sleep, I get in this pose and I am out like a light in no time! This pose is great to lower blood pressure and heart rate as well as reduces stress and the central nervous system.
Lay on your back, adding a pillow down your spine and one under your head for comfort. Then, bend your legs and bring your feet together (similar to a butterfly pose) pulling them up towards your bottom. If your knees don’t touch the ground, feel free to put a pillow under each so you can let your legs relax. Finally, place your arms out to the side or above your head, wherever it feels comfortable. Deep breathe and let your body do the rest.
Legs Up The Wall Pose (Viparita Karani)
This pose is intended to be a deep relaxation pose so if you want just one pose to try, this is the one. With your legs inverted, it relaxes tired legs after a long day and gives you the full benefits of being inverted but in a comfortable position. Try this pose on the flood against the wall or on your bed with your legs on the headboard or wall.
This pose is as simple as the name! Lie on the floor with your sit-bones as close to the wall as is comfortable. From that position, you raise your legs and rest them on the wall. Extend your arms out to your side and hold for at least ten minutes for optimal results. Slowly bed your knees and roll to the side and carefully get up.
Legs On A Chair Pose
While this pose isn’t technically a traditional yoga pose, it is a crowd favorite that teachers and practitioners alike swear by. This pose releases all the tension in your back and just like the legs on the wall pose, it is a great pose to hold for a longer amount of time.
Grab a chair and pillows for comfort for your legs and neck. Lay with your sit bones close to the base of the chair and place your calves on the seat part of the chair, with your feet, knees and thighs pressed together. Your legs should create a 90-degree angle. Take deep breaths and hold. Gently bring your legs to your chest and roll to the side before getting up.
Happy Baby (Ananda Balasana)
Again, this is one of my go-to poses for everything from insomnia to back pain to just needing to relax. I have seen grown, muscular, fitness freak men in my yoga class laugh at this pose but once they get into it, it’s all they want to do! It is comfortable
Lay on your back and bring your knees to your chest, holding your ankles. Then, grab the outside of your feet and bring your knees out slightly wider than your torso and bring the knees towards your armpits. Then position the ankles directly above the knees and relax. If you want, rock slightly side to side for more of a stretch. Release your hands and bring your knees back to your chest before rolling over to your side and getting up.
Child’s Pose (Balasana)
These last two poses are perfect for doing in bed if it is late at night or you don’t want to get out of bed but you can’t sleep. Child’s pose brings you back to child-like comfort and releases so much tension that you carry as an adult. This is especially great if you carry tension in your shoulders and back, and will help you relax and feel calmer.
First, kneel on the floor, press your toes together and sit back on your heels with your knees spread apart. Bend forward and rest your torso either on or in between your legs, whichever is more comfortable. Stretch your arms forward and reach to lengthen your spine. You can remain in this position or you can bring your arms back by your legs and rest there. Roll to your side to release.
Corpse Pose (Savasana)
This pose almost seems ironic to use as a tool to better sleep since it is essentially just laying on your back but it truly is relaxing and oftentimes, people fall asleep doing this pose in class! Definitely try this pose in bed just in case you fall asleep (finger’s crossed!)
Lay down on your back, using a pillow or rolled blanket to support your neck and place your arms and legs comfortably at your sides, not too wide or too narrow. Slowly release the tension in your face, shoulders, arms and down your body, breathing deeply. The key is to focus on releasing tension and breathing deeply and you’ll be asleep in no time!
Emily Bell is a graduate of Central Michigan University with a degree in Journalism with a Public Relations concentration. She currently lives with her husband and dog on the coast in Florida.